I don’t know if this is fair or not. Probably not. Seems that most things I do are not “fair,” so why not make a New Year’s resolution on your behalf. Here it goes.
I think you want to know Jesus more. Just a wild guess. From whatever background you come, my guess is you’d love to just get to know him. For the first time, or the millionth time. So here’s my resolution for you:
Assuming the above is true – there’s one really great way to get to know Jesus. Read the four gospels though four times this year. And here’s how I’d suggest you do that:
1. Read them through like you’d read a novel. Just read them. A chapter or five at a time. However much time you have in a sitting – just read till you can’t read any more. There are 89 chapters in the four books so if you average three chapters a day, you can read all four in a month. But let’s say you’re slow (like me) and you read all four books in two months. Don’t take notes. Read thoughtfully and prayerfully, but just read.
2. Now…start over in Matthew 1. This time read them all the way through again, but look for all the times Jesus interacts with people. Make notes in a notebook or on your computer. Note how he interacted with outsiders (that would be women and children. Lepers. Demoniacs. Samaritans. Etc). Take note of each of his encounters and start drawing some conclusions. This might take you three or four months.
3. Go back through them a third time and study all of his teaching sections. It’s helpful to have a red lettered bible for this – just makes it easier. Notice his big chunks of teaching like the Sermon on the Mount and the times towards the end of Matthew and the end of John. Read them carefully and reflect on them. Then notice the parables. About 42 of them. Learn them. Memorize them. They are the means by which God chose to communicate with the world. Must be important!
4. Finally, start to make comparisons with yourself and Jesus. Do you believe what Jesus believed? What DID he believe? Do you talk like him? Do you not answer questions the way he didn’t answer them? Do you tell a good story? Do you think and react like him? Do you spend time with a few the way he did? Be honest. Involve some friends in this quest.
The point is – for 2014 – do you have a plan to become more like Jesus? And if not…this one might do for a start.
There you go – no New Year’s Resolution needed now. Oh well okay, you can still exercise more and lose weight and pray more and take your wife out on a date every week – I made all of those (again) this year too!